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In Exodus 14: 9-31 we read about the Israelites, their lack of faith in God and Moses, the parting of the Red Sea and their escape from the armies of the Egyptian King. Picture this .The Angel of the Lord is out front of the Israelites in a great cloud. The people look back and see on the horizon a huge cloud of dust. They know the King’s armies are coming to get them. Soon the ground is shaking beneath their feet as the chariots come closer and they fuss at Moses for bringing them out of Egypt and into this mess. He tells them, “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the LORD will do to save you today….” Like those Israelites we in times of stress cry out to God, more often in desperation and not in faith. You know the story. The Angel of the Lord and the great cloud move to the rear of the mass of people fleeing the Kings armies; blocking their way and delaying their charging in among the people.The wind begins to blow, it blows all night and the waters part exposing the sea bed. The Israelites cross over to the other side, the cloud lifts and the Kings army in its anger charges forward into the seabed…… and die.

I use the Upper Room for my morning devotional time and an article in the February issue, some years back led me to this topic. The article was submitted by Bob G. Wood from Tennessee.  An old joke tells about two Israelites who were following Moses across the Red Sea just after God parted the waters. One comments to the other, “Can you imagine what this mud is doing to our sandals? They’re probably ruined.” We are a lot like those two in the story; we are so focused on the negatives and worries of our lives that we completely miss the miracles and blessings all around us.

These two guys took their eyes off the horizon of hope and salvation God was providing and began to despair over the problems of this life.  The Angel of the Lord went out before them; on the horizon before them was hope and salvation from the despair and fears of their lives and they took their eyes off the path God had prepared for them, distracted by the mud of this life. In Luke Chapter 8 we read the Parable of the seeds being sowed. I believe that we are like the seeds thrown in the thorn bushes in verse 14:  The seeds that fell among thorn bushes stand for those who hear; but the worries and riches and pleasures of this life crowd in and choke them, and their fruit never ripens.

I find my greatest time of peace occurs while I’m praying or reading scripture. We can’t do that all the time, can we? Those two Israelites were worried about the mud on their sandals and couldn’t  see the Glory of God’s salvation waiting for them. What about the mud on our shoes, how much and from where does it come? This is an election year and there is enough mud to go around. Like the Greeks of Paul’s day we to love to debate but unlike the Greeks our debates soon lose reason and purpose; the voices are many and the words become self serving and meaningless. We are mired in the problems of the day. They may be in our home, workplace and even in the Church.  The Church, the place many of us go seeking refuge from the problems of everyday life and the mud that clings to our shoes, making our steps heavier, only to discover that the Church is under attack and even within its walls we sometimes hear the rumble of the Kings chariots coming closer.

Maybe you are walking through the mud of:

Discouragement? Hear the words of the Lord.

(John 14:27)  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

 (Psa 31:24)  Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

We spend a great deal of our time seeking hope and comfort in the things of this world. We will find no salvation in the things of this world. If you watch the news or listen to the radio you might agree with me. I believe the broadcaster’s rule of thumb so to speak is that “good news bleeds.”

Depression?

It not only destroys your life but impacts the lives of all who love and care for you and more importantly widens the gap between you and God.

(Rom 8:38,39) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(Isa 40:31)  But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

Troubles…. there are many burdens in this life. These being only a couple we all will face at one time or another. Scripture tells us…..

(Rom 8:28)  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Have you ever been around a whiner? You know, complaining all the time. Well these folks would receive the all time “Best Whiner Award” if there was one. I think it tops the guys with the sandals. The people complained to Moses:

Exodus 14:11 They said to Moses, “Weren’t there any graves in Egypt? Did you have to bring us out here in the desert to die? Look what you have done by bringing us out of Egypt!

Exodus 14:12 Didn’t we tell you before we left that this would happen? We told you to leave us alone and let us go on being slaves of the Egyptians. It would be better to be slaves there than to die here in the desert.”

 Sometimes the problems and burdens of this life are so great; the effort to overcome them becomes an unbearable burden. Do you feel like you’re in a desert of despair, uncertainty, sin and a world that is increasingly attacking your Christian values? We would do well to remember Moses’ words.

 “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the LORD will do to save you today….”

Jesus once sent the disciples out to preach that the Kingdom of Heaven was near. The distractions and evils of this world can sometimes overwhelm us as they come between us and God’s will in our lives. What do we do if people won’t listen to us or respect our faith? How do we overcome this world?

Mat 10:14 And if some home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place and shake the dust off your feet.

 I am struck by the politics of our time. The lack of civility, the language and total disregard for the truth; “Pogo once said we have found the enemy and they is us.” I am not bashing politicians; they are after all just a reflection of the people they represent. Some of you might believe I’ve got off message. Well I haven’t. A Christian has to find the dry ground, rise above the mud of this world. We must walk a different path. I know it is a stretch but in keeping with the message I’d like to change dust to mud. Shake the mud off your shoes and keep your eyes on the horizon that you might see the love, grace, and salvation that is yours through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the LORD will do to save you today….”

Thanks for joining me in the pew today, God Bless

jk

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